Dakshin Dare bares its potential

Dakshin Dare bares its potential

Motor sport

Never mind that the Mahindra vehicles dominated the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare by achieving 1-2 finishes in both the four-wheeler categories (Ultimate and Endurance), but the 2,000 Kms, five-day event itself was the biggest winner with a potential to grow into a major rally.

Revving it up : Team Mahindra’s Gaurav Gill (inset) and co-driver Musa Sherif stole the limelight in the Dakshin Dare rally.

To an extent, the Ultimate category that was run on the Special Stage format, suffered for want of entries in the four-wheeler class, but the presence of National champion and eventual winner Gaurav Gill along with equally famous co-driver Musa Sherif, somewhat compensated for the paucity of cars that numbered just seven.

A dozen bikes coupled with two Moto Quads ridden by Jaipur’s Raj Singh Rathod and Roopesh Chandrasekara from Bangalore completed theUltimate field while lending some variety.

TVS Racing’s Nataraj Rajanna, astride an Apache RTR 160, took the honours after front-running Pramod Joshua crashed out on the second day.

It was a fine performance by Nataraj who won comfortably despite suffering a puncture on the final day while finishing ahead of Chetan Ganapathy and Sarath.

The Mahindras entered a two-vehicle (XUV 500) team of Gill and second-placed Lohitt Urs with Thai navigator Chupong Chaiwan. After four days, both vehicles suffered some damage with Gill nursing a trailing rear arm when the nut fell off and Urs literally muscling the car after losing power-steering on the final stage.

While the powerful XUVs hogged the limelight, two Maruti Gypsy vehicles, driven by Anwar Khan (co-driver Mohd Nadeem) and Sanjay Agarwal partnered by Anoop Kumar had the spectators on their feet as both drove hard and returned timings that were not too far off those by the bigger vehicles.

The rough terrain too seemed to suit the Gypsy which was far more nimble than the bulky XUV while negotiating some tight corners.

Bangalore’s Agarwal was particularly impressive considering that he missed the entire first day’s stages run in the coffee estates of Kodagu due to a blown engine, just eight kms before the start of the competitive section.

After getting his Gypsy towed to a nearby town, he fitted the car with a borrowed Esteem engine before rejoining the Rally in Waynad, Kerala. Agarwal was quicker than Khan in all the stages and in fact, was just three seconds off Gill’s pace in the night run! However, he had too much to make up and settled for fourth overall behind Gill, Urs and Khan.   

Despite all the hectic action that the Ultimate boys dished out, including a first-time midnight run on the outskirts of Ooty, it was the Endurance category (TSD format) that witnessed some thrilling competition with the winner, Pune’s Sanjay Takale (co-driver Mustafa) in a Mahindra Scorpio able to confirm their win only on the final day.

The experienced Takale had an excellent first leg (10 seconds penalty) and then was brilliant in the fifth leg where he earned just three seconds penalty to clinch the issue ahead of Karthick Maruti (S Sankar Anand) also in a Scorpio and fancied Bangalore couple of Sathish Goapalkrishnan and Savera D’Souza in a Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, just 38 seconds behind the leader.

If anything, the popular Endurance category that had 27 entries, took TSD Rallying to next level with the competitors armed with computerized trip meters and other gadgets that made the car’s dashboard resemble an aircraft cockpit! A few competitors though thought that the event would have been better with longer and faster Competitive Sections.

Talking of competitive sections, the vehicles in the Ultimate category had to brave really rough terrain and some routes coursed through habitations with danger lurking around almost every corner. So much so that in Waynad, the competitors, after the first loop, were reluctant to do the repeats and it led to cancellation of the stages with Joshua’s accident also influencing the decision.

There were a few other glitches, notably the tulip or road book that contained any number of errors like missing cautions, gradients, dips and in some places even the direction! To his credit, organizer Jaidas Menon conceded that the tulip could have been better. “We will definitely try and avoid such mistakes in future,” he said.

Given the logistics of organizing an event of this magnitude, there were bound to be a few hithes.

However, the biggest setback was the paucity of entries, something that could have been avoided with a more careful allotment of dates by the FMSCI. This year’s Dare was postponed to accommodate an event in the North, but the new dates left very little time for the upcountry rallyists to prepare and participate.

Dakshin Dare, along with two other major rallies sponsored by Maruti Suzuki – the Desert Storm and Raid de Himalaya – has emerged as one of the premier motoring events in the country.

As such, the three rallies deserve prime slots in the motorsport calendar by ensuring that no events are held at least two weeks before the Dare, Storm and Raid. It will provide time for prospective entrants to prepare for the events.

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